While awaiting trial in a $400,000 GoFundMe scam that fooled donors with a phony Good Samaritan story, Mark D’Amico may be sent to jail for as long as 30 days for traffic tickets he received in Burlington County, authorities said Monday.
D’Amico has been charged with driving with a suspended license in three incidents between March 2017 and May 2018, which makes him a repeat offender who could be incarcerated and fined thousands of dollars, said Florence Township Prosecutor Andrew Smith.
“Jail is mandatory for a second offense,” Smith said.
D’Amico, 39, also has been charged in Florence Municipal Court with criminal trespass because he has refused to move out of a house he once shared with his now-former girlfriend, after he was asked to leave by her grandmother, the owner of the property.
D’Amico, Katelyn McClure, and Johnny Bobbitt Jr., a homeless veteran the then-couple befriended, are all facing charges in the scheme that defrauded more than 14,000 donors worldwide, according to prosecutors. The three concocted a story in November 2017 to draw donations, saying they wanted to get Bobbitt off the streets after he had come to McClure’s rescue when she ran out of gas in Philadelphia, prosecutors said.
D’Amico and McClure, 28, are out on bail and scheduled for a hearing before a Superior Court judge in Mount Holly on Monday on fraud and conspiracy charges. Bobbitt was released from jail last week after agreeing to drug monitoring and other conditions, pending trial.
When D’Amico appeared in Municipal Court on Monday, arriving via a Lyft ride, he asked the judge for a postponement so that he could hire a lawyer. Last month, when the charges were read to him, Judge Corey Ahart suggested he get an attorney because he faced incarceration if convicted, but D’Amico said at the time he wanted to defend himself.
Before the hearing, D’Amico said in a brief interview that he believed the traffic charges would be dismissed because they previously were heard in a Burlington City court. “I pled guilty and paid a fine,” he said.
Smith, however, said the charges were still active.
D’Amico said he was placed on a state list of suspended drivers because he failed to pay fines for minor traffic tickets in the past.
He lived with McClure in the house in Florence for three years before they split up in late August. He said that McClure’s grandmother gave him a letter asking him to vacate the premises in the fall, and that her parents had called police.
“You can’t just ask a tenant to leave with a letter,” D’Amico said. He said that police never signed the criminal trespass complaint but the grandmother did.
He said she would have to go through formal eviction proceedings to have him move out and that they could take a few months.
“I wasn’t trespassing. I fixed up the place and had a lease,” D’Amico said.
Smith said the charge would be considered by the judge next month along with the traffic violations.
As for the GoFundMe charges against him, D’Amico said prosecutors “are mistaken.”
“This wasn’t based on greed or a big scam,” he said. “I gave Bobbitt all of the money and took him to a methadone clinic to get clean. But he spent it on drugs.”
Bobbitt’s attorney, Burlington County Deputy Public Defender John Keesler, said in court last week that he would not discuss the facts of the case before trial.
Bobbitt, 35, was released from the county jail and ordered by Superior Court Judge Mark Tarantino to stay off drugs, attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and avoid contact with D’Amico, McClure, and any victims.
The judge also ordered Bobbitt to notify authorities if any of his co-defendants attempted to contact him. His next hearing is Feb. 6.